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Politics, rugby and mental wellbeing

Politics, rugby and mental wellbeing

40924302 - one caucasian rugby men players in studio silhouette isolated on white background

It was a  week when politicians used their power to craft a budget influencing the way we will live for the next year. A gathering of people in Landsdowne Rugby Club in Dublin, however, showed how true power comes from honesty and courage.

Elite rugby players Hannah Tyrrell, Jack McGrath and Shane Jennings led the way by honestly and courageously sharing their own emotional vulnerabilities, off the pitch, with everyone at the packed public gathering.

The impact was electric.

The rugby trio are ambassadors for the “Tackle Your Feelings” mental wellbeing campaign, launched by the Irish Rugby Union Players Association (IRUPA) and backed financially by the Zurich Foundation.

They have taken on a role revealing their own vulnerabilities to show people its Ok to talk when you’re having a bad day.

Hannah told of her journey through bulimia and self harm. Jack described his pain at the death of his brother who took his own life.

Shane told of his personal difficulties moving from the excitement of being a rugby professional to a more mundane career on civvy street.


One by one others in the room found the courage to stand up and describe their own journeys through mental anguish.

Some were engulfed by raw, recent pain. Others talked about ongoing pain from past events.

Some in the room gave hope by describing how that had come safely through dark emotional experiences. Others asked how they could help friends and relatives going through a tough time.


It was not about who was suffering the deepest pain. It was about acknowledging that everyone has emotional trauma and its Ok to admit it, talk about it and, if necessary, seek professional help.

The Tackle Your Feelings campaign is empowering people to take steps before emotional pain builds to a crisis.

Hannah, Jack and Shane were on the platform but rugby stars from the four provinces were in the room to support them.

These high performance players were brave enough to admit that although they are amazing sportspeople they too have the same emotions as the rest of us and the same struggles.


Their bravery encouraged others in the room to take a microphone in their hands.   Everyone left that room deeply touched by the courage and honesty of those who spoke.

The powerful Tackle Your Feelings campaign is being run nationwide across the four rugby provinces.

There are self-help tools on their website at www.tackleyourfeelings.com.

Politicians may determine how we live our lives day to day but this campaign is tapping into the true power of ordinary people determined to achieve mental wellbeing for all.


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